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Grant number like: FA-50328-04

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Kirsten Delegard
University of Minnesota (Durham, NC 27705-4677)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2004 – 8/31/2005

Women Patriots: The Rise of Conservatism and the Transformation of Women's Politics

This manuscript tells the story of the first broad-based movement of conservative women in American history. The history of female anti-radicalism describes how roughly one million women in the 1920s came to support a campaign against the welfare state and demilitarization, all in the name of preventing a Bolshevik-style revolution in the United States. Driven by fear generated by the Bolshevik Revolution and a new sense of civic duty inspired by the Nineteenth Amendment, conservative women transformed women's political institutions and women's perceptions of collective action, altered the trajectory of American reform and fueled the ascendance of anti-communism. Female anti-radicals crushed the high hopes of suffragists by defeating a series of female-sponsored reform measures after the Nineteenth Amendment; their campaign against this legislation called into question the true purpose of female reform, casting it as the handmaiden of global revolution. Anti-radicals ultimately pressured women's clubs to move away from advocating social welfare reform, changing the way mainstream middle-class women's groups had operated since the Progressive Era. This history will engage anyone who wants a fuller understanding of women and politics. Few would question the influence of conservative women in more recent social policy debates. Yet no one has examined when and how conservative women emerged as a political force and how their work irrevocably altered American politics, especially women's politics.